Friday, June 23, 2017

Talk To Me, review. I can live with that!


Review: TALK TO ME

TALK TO ME by Neil Coleman (2016)

Reviewed by Craig Sisterson

Garry is the enigmatic and popular host of a talkback radio show who is continually battling with his boss over his style. Outside of work, he loves to take his crazy Jack Russell Terrier, Spot, to the park where they regularly meet up with a group of friends, both canine and human. 

But for two of those friends, what starts as a walk in the park turns sinister with the gruesome discovery of a body. Soon, talkback radio gets involved and things get totally out of hand. Garry is drawn into a plot that threatens his close friend. Meanwhile secret meetings and plans are made and loyal listeners take sides as more and more people ring in to the radio station. 

This is an interesting book, both in terms of content and trying to find the right rating in a review. It begins well, as we're dropped into the life of Garry, a stressed talkback radio host who loves to walk his dog, Spot, is struggling to deal with a combative producer, and barely sees his partner. Neil Coleman brings the craziness of talkback radio to life well, as Garry tries to balance having discussions about 'in-the-news' issues with entertainment value and ratings, while juggling a panoply of callers.

Then Garry becomes parts of the news himself, as a dead body is discovered in a park where he walks Spot, and a new caller, Todd, appears to know far too much. Is Garry conversing with a killer?

As the pressure mounts, so does Garry's stress - but ratings are at an all-time high and he's suddenly the golden boy for the radio station. How can he juggle a police investigation with his newfound fame, and his increasing fears as Todd starts stalking Garry off the air?
(Here is a review for Talk To Me, by Craig Sisterson. Given how Talk To Me came about and that I was not intending it to be a serious contender for ANY awards, I am satisfied that it got as far as it did. Many thanks to those who have encouraged me and to Craig for giving me hope and the will to keep trying. I WILL be back. Go to Neil's Books on my website and download your copy. Please leave a review and a star rating. Thanks, Neil Coleman)

REVIEW---Craig Sisterson 
It's a clever and cool set-up, and an interesting setting  for a crime novel (talkback radio and the off-air life of notorious hosts). However, I ended up having mixed feelings about this light-hearted mystery as a whole.

TALK TO ME showed plenty of promise, and delivered on some of it - with interesting characters, some quirky incidents, and a nice dose of humour threaded throughout. There's a lot that a reader can enjoy. But I was bothered by a few things, which started pulling me out of what was a good underlying story. Firstly, much of the tale is told through dialogue rather than description. This could be a clever device, given the setting is talkback radio, but as the pages turned it grew a little wearisome for me - the dialogue became more expository and on-the-nose, explaining the story and what the reader needed to know rather than feeling natural. Characters would repeatedly lay out the current situation without much subtext.

There were also some 'huh?' moments in terms of how the police or others acted, which just didn't seem authentic to me. Novels do require suspension of disbelief, but for me there needs to be a balance between believability and story - and perhaps because I was already a little disengaged rather than completely caught up in the story, little things like that disrupted the narrative for me. This may not be the case for other readers, as it is an exciting, interesting underlying story.

So I was left with a semi-satisfied feel after reading the book. There were lots of promising things, but also little bits that broke up an otherwise smooth read. Coleman does a good job at creating an interesting cast, and bringing to life the behind-the-scenes world of talkback radio. I was hoping for a little more after a good set-up, but I did feel intrigued enough to keep reading to the very end.

Craig Sisterson is a lapsed lawyer who writes features for leading magazines and newspapers in several countries. He has interviewed more than 180 crime writers, discussed crime writing onstage at arts and literary festivals in Europe and Australasia, on national radio, has been a judge of the Ned Kelly Awards, and is the Judging Convenor of the Ngaio Marsh Awards. You can follow him on Twitter: @craigsisterson

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Perdy and the chooks are going to the movies today! Desperation!

If you have been following my blogs and FB posts, you would have no doubt cottoned on to the saga, re my chooks. I had four stroppy girls, who for the most part were producing enough eggs to keep my larder full and some leftover for swapping and giving away. Yes, the home baking used up a few too. You may also have noticed that I 'introduced' two new girls to the flock a few weeks ago, WITHOUT doing any research about how that should be achieved,
A one-sided war resulted and it was UGLY to watch. Feathers flew and prisoners were taken. The absconding rate sky-rocked, to the point, that every time I wandered into the backyard, there was one or both of the new hens, high-stepping around the garden, in the belief that they had escaped their tormentors. I returned them to their 'new family' and war resumed,
I sought advice and 'toughened up,' as hens will be hens and the term, 'pecking order,' has a real basis in the animal kingdom. (Yeah, I know---humans do a pretty damned good job, emulating that too!) I came home from shopping a few days ago and a very sad sight met me as I entered the yard.One of the 'newbies' was trapped in a corner, from where she had been trying to escape her mean-beaked upper echelon torture mistress. (Hell, that could make her money in some darker corners of the human world!)
'ENOUGH is ENOUGH!' I yelled, sounding like a group of black-shirted cult followers, as seen on the news,' (Kiwis will get that) I acted immediately and instituted a new regime: SEPARATION, 'Chooky style.' The two new girls were returned to their smaller, but safer area, whereby, 'research' tells me that they should remain, for two reasons. It may be too late re one factor; quarantine, in case they had some unwanted disease, and two---let them get used to one another and then in about two weeks, let the new ones out very early one morning, before the older ones arise. I thought my brother was having me on when he suggested that.
I have a 'third strategy.' Today, Perdy and I will be taking all six hens to the movies. We are going to see a very clever New Zealand made short film about the 'world of hens.' We hope to garner a new understanding of the antics and quirks of our 'feathered egg producers.' We hope to show them that 'their generous enclosure does not need to be a war zone.' We shall follow up the film viewing with a therapy session, where I shall use all of the skills I have learned over the years in my 'professional life' as a counsellor. Yes, we will use 'Narrative Therapy, CBT and finally a Restorative Justice session. If the former strategies do not work, I shall employ 'roasting therapy,' or perhaps a little 'crockpot solution with spices, therapy.'
There is, of course, the issue of how I shall smuggle all of the participants in this scenario, into the theatre. I think I need to create a diversion at the entrance of the cinema and while that is being investigated, the hens, Perdy and I shall enter. The fact that I have a rather large wiggling, clucking bag and a Jack Russell, cleverly disguised as an elderly, very small old lady with spectacles, should be negated by the diversion.
I suspect that Thames has had its share of unusual happenings in the past, so this one, should find its place in the 'Halls of Fame,' and me---well-----one has to seek 'outside the box' solutions to vexing problems.' If we get caught---Perdy has promised to 'eat the evidence!'

Monday, June 5, 2017

I wonder who is going to be murdered in the Tauranga Library this Thursday night!

Come and join me for this fun event. I do not think very much blood will be shed so your nerves will be safe.
I am in very good company re the other guests and unfortunately, I will not have the hard print version of my book, Talk To me. If you wish to read the book before attending the evening, just go to my website and download it---follow the links from Neil's Books.
Happy reading. See you Thursday, 5.30 pm 8th June.
Perdy (SPOT!) is the little Jack Russell star in the book--TALK TO ME.

Perdy IS Spot in Talk To me. She plays a crucial part in resolving the 'terrible crime.' Just look at that face and see the talent, the determination in her to catch the 'criminal.'